Real Scientists have our masks and hand soap ready for a fascinating week with Dr Kishana Taylor (@kyt_thatsme), a Postdoctoral Researcher in virology at the University of California, Davis.
Welcome to Real Scientists! Can you tell us how you got into science?
I wanted to be a marine mammal biologist/marine biologist/veterinarian which meant lots of science. I also had a number of great teachers in K-12 who saw my aptitude and love of it who encouraged me to pursue it.
Excellent! Where did virology enter the picture?
Viruses and the diseases they cause have major impacts on human and animal health. They are also REALLY cool! I fell into my current field trying to diversify my resume for Veterinary school with undergraduate research and fell in love with the lab work and the implications of the science I was doing. I stay because of those same reasons
What are you working on right now?
I research influenza viruses and process that flu viruses can undergo during co-infection called reassortment. Flu viruses, among some others, have segmented genomes which allow for the swapping of segments (Reassortment) during the viruses’ replication cycles. Also known as antigenic shift, it can be responsible for huge shifts in the genetic make-up of flu viruses and can be responsible for pandemic flu outbreaks as well as mismatches between predicted vaccine coverage and actual circulating virus.
What do you want the public to know about your work?
The public should care about my research because understanding reassortment better could help scientists better predict or anticipate the impact of a reassortment event in any given year. Considering that influenza kills thousands of people every year and makes many more very sick, more accurate predictions of what the flu virus looks like every year could help a lot of people.
What do you get up to when you’re not in the lab?
I have a husband and a 17month old son that I find pretty interesting…
[I’m a] huge soccer fan (Go USWMNT!!), avid reader, sci-fi and fantasy nerd!
What does your perfect day off look like?
Anything involving water! The beach, or a day at the lake etc. Throw in some good sunshine, a good book (preferably fiction/fantasy) and you’ve got a happy me.
Dr Kishana Taylor, welcome to Real Scientists!